“Mommy, before you go to work, tell me again the story about how ships and airplanes saved the world…”
“Sure, dear. Back at the beginning of the century, believe it or not, most people weren’t very sure that we could avoid a climate catastrophe and still give the world’s growing population a long, prosperous and happy life.
“Government diplomats met over and over again at big international meetings and mainly told each other why their countries were already doing more than they needed to and why other countries should do more. Just like mommy and daddy arguing over who should wash the dishes after dinner.
“But their most clever and silly arguments were about ships and airplanes. They even argued about where they should argue about this. They would argue in one meeting that voting was against everything they stood for, and in the next that voting was healthy and indispensible. ”
“But why would they do something silly like that, mommy?”
“These diplomats weren’t quite sure how to blame each other for pollution from ships and airplanes, because it happened in between countries. And if they couldn’t blame each other, they had to come up with new arguments. The people who owned their own ships and airplanes came up with clever arguments for not doing anything, which many diplomats repeated enthusiastically.
“But they never argued so much as when one group of countries got tired of all the arguing and decided to actually do something to control pollution from planes visiting their countries. That got other countries arguing even louder, especially those who listened most closely to the owners of ships and airplanes.
“But what they worried the most about was that success in controlling pollution from ships and aircraft might encourage efforts to reduce the rest of the pollution.
"Some rich countries thought all the ships and planes should get the same treatment. Some poor countries (and some richer ones who still wanted to be treated like poor ones) thought this was the worst idea in the world, because if all ships and airplanes were treated equally, then all cars, steel mills and coal plants might also be treated equally. ”
“But, mommy, you can’t cross the ocean in a car or a steel mill, right?”
“That’s right dear, so the arguments went on and on. Until one day they stopped. No one was quite sure why. Perhaps they got tired of arguing. Perhaps because a meeting happened at the same time as the most powerful typhoon ever in the world hit one of their countries, which made them think about what might happen to all of them if they didn’t stop polluting.
“Whatever the reason, they decided that ships and aircraft had to do their fair share to save the climate.
"They set limits for emissions from these sectors and made sure they paid for their pollution, and used part of the money to make more efficient ships and planes, and the rest to help poor countries develop without polluting, and to adapt to climate disruptions.
“The world was so thankful to the diplomats who made this happen, that the other diplomats decided they should stop arguing for doing nothing and find solutions for the rest of the emissions as well.
“And that’s why now I can be the captain of a ship with almost zero emissions, so efficient that on a good day it gets most of its power from the wind. Now I’ve got to get on board and raise the sail. Promise me you’ll study hard while I’m gone.”
“Mommy – I’m so proud of you. See you on Skype soon!”
Photo Credit: SustainUS
ECO has been pondering the evident marginalization of the ‘civil society voice’ lately and started scribbling a few preambular thoughts on a serviette…
- Reaffirming that vibrant public participation “allows vital experience, expertise, information and perspectives from civil society to be brought into the process to generate new insights and approaches”1;
- Acknowledging the respectful, positive and constructive dialogue at the December 1 ADP Special Event;
- Encouraging Parties and the Secretariat to provide roundtables and other opportunities to enhance the full inclusion of civil society as a relevant and meaningful voice in these negotiations; . . .
1Guidelines for participation of representative of NGOs at meetings of the bodies of the UNFCCC.
Photo Credit: CAN Europe